Questions to Ask Your Surgeon About Breast Reconstruction

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are considering breast reconstruction, it’s important to know as much as you can about what to expect. Your breast surgeon can help you find a plastic surgeon who should be able to explain all of your choices and answer your questions. Here are some questions to ask to help get you started. Be sure you get all of your questions answered, so that you can make the best decisions for you about breast reconstruction.

Finding the right plastic surgeon for your breast reconstruction

If you decide to have breast reconstruction, you’ll need to find an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Your breast surgeon can suggest doctors for you.

To find a board certified plastic surgeon in your area, or to find out if your surgeon is board certified, contact the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Getting a second opinion

It’s not uncommon to get a second opinion before having surgery, so you know all of your options before getting reconstruction surgery, or even mastectomy. It’s more important for you to make the right decisions based on complete information.

Questions to ask about breast reconstruction

It’s very important to get all of your questions answered by your plastic surgeon before having breast reconstruction. If you don’t understand something, ask your surgeon about it. You might want to take notes or bring a partner or friend with you to the doctor to help remember what was said and to help ask other questions.

Here are some questions to get you started. Write down other questions as you think of them. The answers to these questions may help you make your decisions.

  • Can I have breast reconstruction?
  • When can the reconstruction be done?
  • What are the reasons for and against doing it at the same time as my cancer surgery (immediate reconstruction) versus waiting (delayed reconstruction)?
  • Will reconstruction interfere with chemotherapy?
  • Will reconstruction interfere with radiation therapy?
  • What types of reconstruction could I have?
  • What are the risks and benefits of each option?
  • What type of reconstruction do you think would be best for me? Why?
  • What’s the average cost of each type? Will my insurance cover them?
  • How long would it take me to recover from each type?
  • How many of these procedures have you (plastic surgeon) done each year?
  • What results can I expect?
  • Will the reconstructed breast match my other breast?
  • Should I consider surgery on the other breast as well to help them match?
  • Could I have the nipple reconstructed if I choose to? How would this be done?
  • How will my reconstructed breast(s) feel to the touch? Will I have any feeling in my reconstructed breast(s)?
  • What possible problems should I know about?
  • If using a tissue flap, will there be pain, scars, or other changes in the parts of my body where the tissue is taken from?
  • If using a tissue flap, will you also need to place an implant to give the reconstructed breast a better shape? 
  • If I get a breast implant, how long will it last?
  • What type of implant will you use for my reconstructed breast---smooth or textured?; saline or silicone? 
  • What kinds of changes to the breast can I expect over time?
  • How will aging affect the reconstructed breast?
  • How will I know if the implant is ruptured?
  • Are there any new reconstruction options that I should know about, including clinical trials?
  • Can you show me pictures of typical results?
  • Can I talk with other women who have had the same surgery?

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Last Medical Review: September 18, 2019 Last Revised: September 18, 2019

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